Democratic Primary – County Council: District 7

Questions for Darlington County Council Candidates:
District 07: Robbin Brock, R (i) and Lewis Brown, R

1. Please share a little about yourself, and why you want to run for this office/ run for reelection of this seat.

Robbin Brock (i)
“I’m seeking re-election for Darlington County Council District 7. For the past three and half years I have worked very hard to address issues concerning our district. I had the pleasure to serve as Co-Chairman for the past two years. My retirement from Darlington County after 28 years in Emergency Services allows me to work full time for the people of District 7. I would ask to be re-elected for a second term to continue work on some new and exciting projects in District 7 for Darlington County.”

Robbin Brock (i), left and Lewis Brown, right.

Robbin Brock (i), left and Lewis Brown, right.

Lewis Brown
“I am a lifetime resident of Darlington County and the Hartsville area. I graduated from Hartsville High School, attended Wofford College, and graduated from Francis Marion University. I have been married for 36 years to Kathy Redfearn and have three daughters. My decision to run for county council is simply based on my love for the Hartsville community and Darlington County. I was elected to county council in 1988 and served over three years prior to being transferred to Pennsylvania with Sonoco. Since that time, it has always been my goal to serve the community again by running for county council. We have a tremendous community and with my leadership we can continue to grow and maintain the great qualities of that make our community so unique. I am asking the voters in District 7 to elect me again as their representative.”

2. What is the most important quality in a good Darlington County council member?

Robbin Brock (i)
“Citizens of such a close-knit community as Darlington County deserve a council member they feel is accessible to them at all times. When a citizen has an issue or project they want to talk with their council member, they need to feel comfortable picking up the phone and contacting them for help. It’s up to me to listen and find the answer to their concerns and respond myself or have a county official contact them.”

Lewis Brown
“Leadership, which includes establishing a clear vision, sharing that vision with others so that they will follow willingly, providing the information, knowledge and methods to realize that vision, and coordinating and balancing the conflicting interests of all members and stakeholders.

A leader steps up in times of crisis, and is able to think and act creatively in difficult situations.”

3. In the past 20 years Hartsville has seen significant growth in their downtown area with small businesses, and Darlington has experienced an upswing in the past year with the new Walmart and several new small businesses. What can the county to do help continue economic growth in the entire county?
Do you think the Darlington County Economic Development Partnership has been beneficial?

Robbin Brock (i)
“My personal view on economic development is for county council to do whatever it takes to bring jobs to Darlington County. I fully support Mr. Frank Willis and the Darlington County Economic Development Partnership. Working together as county council and this group greatly benefits the entire county. Projects that were completed last year demonstrate the diversity in Economic Development.

One project of immense value was SONOCO opening their new iPS Studio, a state of the art innovation facility. This investment will bring people from all over the world to Hartsville, and I can only imagine the financial impact for the hotels, restaurants and shopping for the community.

Two new agricultural businesses were also developed, both peanut-processing plants. The Bird Song Plant is located in Darlington and Rogers Brothers is located in the Lydia community. These companies will help local farmers grow and sell their products while also supporting businesses that sell the products required to produce the crops.

Along with this agricultural development, Manheim Darlington just opened their BMW Facility creating 50-90 jobs and the City of Hartsville recently announced their plans to development an Industrial Park.

These projects show Darlington County Economic Development is working and will continue to improve the future of Darlington County.”

Lewis Brown
“In 1988, I announced I was running for County Council District 7. My primary concern at that time, as noted in the Hartsville Messenger, was the inability of Darlington County Council to work with the City of Hartsville. Based on my recent discussion with many local officials, the opportunity for improvement still exists today. The business landscape in Darlington County has dramatically changed over the past 25 years. Most of the small town municipalities in our region have experienced a net loss in business. Last year the City of Hartsville held approximately 30 Ribbon Cutting Ceremonies marking the opening of new businesses. In the Pee Dee area, that is an incredible number. Vision and business acumen are essential for county council members. Recruiting new businesses is a very competitive industry. Going forward, county council members will have to make data based decisions to understand where to invest for the highest probability for success. If elected, I will be the only member of county council with a vision based on extensive business travel and almost 25 years of employment with a Fortune 500 company. Over the past 10 years, I have worked closely with high-level decision makers with numerous corporations. My entire business career I have been surrounded by very intelligent successful professionals. I have an extensive network that will enable me to utilize my experiences and contacts for the good of the entire community. County council members have to establish a clear understanding as to what industries are a good fit for Darlington County. Successfully recruiting industry to Darlington County will come from establishing goals and unity among members of county council.”

Do I think the Darlington County Economic Development Partnership has been beneficial? Yes. I support the efforts to combine private and public resources be it time, talents and or finances.”

4. What is the current biggest social problem in your district? Is it drugs, crime, or something else? How can this be fixed?

Robbin Brock (i)
“By far the answer to that is crime. Almost every day you hear of home break-ins or property being stolen. Law enforcement agencies are overwhelmed with the constant increase of reported crimes. I’m not sure this problem can be totally fixed, but there are things we can do to help. One example is starting or joining a crime watch group in your community. Each law enforcement agency will be glad to help you with the information to start your group. A great example of how these groups help is the recently formed task force where the county began working with S.C. Citizen’s Against Dog Fighting. With the recent uptick in missing dogs, the purpose of working with this group is to stop dogs from being stolen and used for fighting. Information is being share on social media sites and citizens see this and provide crucial leads for the efforts. Because of this we just returned one dog back to his family after 45 days that was stolen.

Lewis Brown
“Drugs and crime are of serious concern. However, to me the major social problems in our community are the result of a breakdown in the family structure. Some children are being raised in an unsupervised environment with little to no accountability and most importantly not taking advantage of our educational system. The solution to this problem will not be easy. Our community has shown the ability to make improvements in challenging situations. If elected my goal is to establish an advisory group of business, education and medical professionals to review this topic to better understand how, as a community, we can improve student retention. We all benefit when students realize their path to a better life is through education and personal responsibility. If we can keep our youth engaged in education, reduction in crime and drugs will improve.”

5.What is your vision for improving the recreation department for the people in your district, and the county at large?

Robbin Brock (i)
“Council Members voted to approve the Hospitality Tax (H-Tax) adding a tax on prepared food sold in the county. These tax funds will be used to support tourism related events within the county. We can use these funds to bring all types of sports tourism to our recreation complexes. I feel bringing large-scale, world-class events to our city and county recreation complex’s using the H-Tax funds will bring additional unbudgeted revenue that can be used to support and enhance the programs we provide now.”

Lewis Brown
“My first response would be to congratulate and thank the many Darlington County Recreation Department employees, parents, volunteers, coaches and the Hartsville community for making our sports programs and recreation departments so special. The recent run of Hartsville High Schools’ State Championships are result of our tremendous youth programs. As a resident of District 7, we are very fortunate to enjoy first class facilities. I do feel the County Recreation department and The City of Hartsville Recreation Department can improve the working relationship within the two departments. I have an extensive background in athletics. I will utilize my expertise to work with the City of Hartsville to ensure the two agencies are operating efficiently. We need to ensure all areas of our county have quality programs for the residents of each district. Much of this can be accomplished by sharing ‘Best Demonstrated Practices’. Is the success of one district being shared with other districts? All areas of our county enjoy a rich history of quality athletic programs. I will support efforts to ensure we provide recreational services for all residents of Darlington County.”

Author: Duane Childers

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